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Tombs at the Lions' and St. Paul's Churches


  • Umm al-Rasas 1
  • Umm al-Rasas 2
  • Pictures


    In front of the west façade of the Lions' Church, in locus 6, four trenches have been excavated. In three of them tombs were found: in trench d in front of the northern wall, trench a in the corner between the Church wall and the northen wall, and trench c in front of the southern wall.

    The tomb in trench d : 6 d
    In trench d a rectangular slab tomb was excavated. It was covered by four lithic white (lumacchella stone) slabs, only the middle two were removed to permit the excavation. On the inside the tomb measures 210 cm by 82 cm. Only the eastern wall was built with medium and small stones, while all the other walls had slabs covered by plaster, still visible in the junctions between the slabs. The flooring, 65 cm deep from the top of the covering, is made of well pressed clay earth with small stones.

    Under a thin layer of grey sandy earth mixed with small stones at least five skeletons were identified (cranium and jaws). All lying in semi connected position west-east oriented (heads to the west).

    The tomb in trench a : 6 a
    The tomb found in this trench is similar to the one described above. It is a rectangular slab tomb with three slabs for covering. In this case the middle one was removed to permit the excavation.

    The tomb measures140 cm by 66 cm on the inside. It has three walls made from slabs covered by plaster of which only small fragments remained. The east wall instead is made from small medium stones, on which no traces of plaster have been noticed. The flooring, at 60 cm from the upper face of the closing slab, is made up of well pressed earth mixed with small stones.

    Underneath a layer of light brown sandy earth mixed with small-medium stones laid the bones, probably of a single person. The bones were in disconnected position for which reason even the orientation is uncertain even if the impression given is that the body lied in an east-west orientation. What remained of the skeleton laid in a stratum of yellow clay earth.

    The tomb in Trench c : 6 c
    Tomb c is also a slab rectangular tomb, covered by white lumacchella stone slabs. The covering slabs were not all of the same size, the middle one, which was removed, measured 100 x 90 x 15 cm ca while the other two were much smaller.

    The tomb is made of slabs which were raised on the upper part by rows of small stones which served to support the closing slabs. Plaster should have coverd all the walls and the covering slabs.

    Under a thick layer of grey sandy earth laid the bones of two skeletons. Here there were some sherds probably coming in from outside strata. The bones were in semi-connected positions with the hands along the sides, in an west-east orientation. At the east wall there are many bones piled up. Could it be possible that there lied another skeleton?

    Among the bones there was plaster coming from the walls and from the covering.

    The flooring of the tomb is made from a light brown stratum of pressed earth, under this there was a layer of ashes mixed with fragments of coal.

    Tombs in trench a inside the Lions' Church : a1 a2
    In front of the West entrance of the Lions' Church at 1.43 and 1.60 m under the mosaic floor two tombs have been found.

    Tomb a1, to the south side of the trench, had small slabs of white lumacchella stone as covering; only the first two were visible in the trench one of which was removed to permit teh excavation. The tomb walls are made of small stones covered by a layer of clay and straw plaster. The flooring of the tomb, 60 cm under the closing slabs, is made from pressed clay earth mixed with stones. A characteristic which differs this tomb from the others found in the area is its particular measurement: 230 cm long and 60 cm wide.

    It contained only one skeleton in a connected position, with a west- east orientation. The only findings were traces of clothes.

    Tomb a2 had small slabs of white lumacchella stone for its covering. Here too only the first two slabs were visible and the second one from the west was opened. The tomb is made of slab walls which rest on a row of medium stones, all coverd in white plaster. The flooring, at 64 cm under the surface of the closing slabs, is made from pressed clay earth mixed with stones. The tomb measures : 190 cm by 55 cm.

    There was a skeleton laying in a connected position, west-east oriented with the hands restiung along the sides. Other bones lied under a layer of pressed light brown earth.

    A nail was found on the upper part of the skeleton. Pieces of clothes were attached to parts of the skeleton. A few sherds were found even if they could come from the outside strata.


    Next to western wall of the church, under a 100cm from the mosaic floorbed a tomb was opened by grave-robbers who broke the mosaic floor to open this hollowed space underneath. This gave us the opportunity to examine this tomb!

    Just underneath the mosaic floorbed there is a well dressed masonary with 2-3 regular courses, covered by plaster. The tomb had two coverings one laying just under the mosaic bed while the other lied at 3 courses of masonry deep. The five lower covering slabs layed on a sledge, which is placed on small stones. All this rests on two slabs (216 cm long) in the East-West direction. The other two sides of 83 cm are made of medium sized stones. Plaster is present on all the walls. The flooring, lying 82 cm from the sledge, is made from well pressed clay earth mixed with stones, plaster and lime.

    Inside, under a thick layer of sandy grey earth, coming from outside, layed an unprecised number of disconnected skeletons with the orientation taken as being in the west-east direction.

    As for the findings there were some sherds (1 rim, 1 bottom, 1 handle and few bodies) and glass probably coming from the outside layers. Laying amongst the bones there was a complete nail and other fragments.



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